Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Thunder chairman Clay Bennett issues statement on passing of Aubrey McClendon

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Aubrey McClendon, the co-owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a man who helped move the team from Seattle to the Midwest, has died in a one-car accident. That tragedy came less than 24 hours after he had been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to rig bids on oil leases.

Clay Bennett, the chairman and primary owner of the Thunder, released this statement.

Our thoughts are with the McClendon family at the time of this tragedy.

Report: Michael Beasley to sign with Houston Rockets for rest of season


Daryl Morey is about to sign an MVP.

Not that Michael Beasley is what most Rockets fans have in mind to save their season, but he was just named the MVP of the Chinese Basketball Association.

With his team eliminated from the playoffs and his contract is up, Beasley is flying to Houston, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Rockets are locked in a battle with Utah for the final playoff spot in the West, they are looking for all the roster help then can get. Houston has a lot of depth at the four, but they are not getting much consistent play from the combination of Clint Capela, Josh Smith, Terrence Jones, and Montrezl Harrell. Beasley will slide into that group (as might Donatas Motiejunas, although he could play some backup five behind Dwight Howard). We’ll see how much he helps.

Beasley averaged 31.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game, plus shot better than 40 percent from three leading the Shandong Golden Stars to the playoffs. Beasley was named to the Chinese League All-Star team and for the second straight year won the MVP of that game. The numbers are impressive, but the defense played in the Chinese league is not so those stats are skewed. We’ll see how much he can contribute in the NBA (at both ends of the court).

Manu Ginobili could return from testicular injury this weekend

Associated Press

Manu Ginobili was having a bounce-back season for the Spurs — 10 points a game, shooting 37 percent from three, keeping the offense flowing with the second unit, and looking like a guy who should be discussed for Sixth Man of the year.

At least he was having that kind of year until he took a knee to the groin during and early February game against the Pelicans. He’s been out ever since due to testicular surgery that was required.

But he may be back soon, reports Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News.

“He’s going more quickly then we would have imagined,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s not going to play in this back-to-back or anything, but his progress has been much quicker than we thought.”

The Spurs (50-9) play back-to-back games against Detroit and New Orleans on Wednesday and Thursday. Ginobili could be back as soon as Saturday, when the Spurs host the Sacramento Kings.

The Spurs are getting healthy, they got Kawhi Leonard back recently as well. Expect a lot of Spurs to get rest down the stretch — they aren’t going to catch Golden State for the top seed in the West, but if they are rested and healthy the Spurs stand a chance to beat them in the playoffs.

Report: Knicks not re-signing Jimmer Fredette to second 10-day contract

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The Knicks need help at point guard spot — but Jimmer Fredette is not that answer.

The Knicks’ signed their D-League star to a 10-day contract, but he played just five minutes in two games and hit the only shot he took (a three). And that’s the only shot he’s going to get, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.

For the handful of remaining Fredette faithful, they thought he might be getting another chance. For Knicks fans forced to watch terrible point guard play, particularly on defense, the theory was “he can’t be worse.”

Interim coach Kurt Rambis didn’t see it that way. The Knicks are looking at other options.

While Fredette averaged 21.8 points and shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range in the D-League for the Westchester Knicks, but shooting was never the issue. The challenge was always defense (where he was as bad or worse than the guys the Knicks were playing) and he is not a good playmaker at the NBA level. He’s not been able to adapt his game to the role he would have to play in the NBA.

I’d say this was his last shot in the NBA, but I said that last time. We’ll see if another team will take a flier on him.

Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: No Curry, so Warriors go gritty to get win

Associated Press

If you were watching the Super Tuesday results roll in and shaking your head at America, I fully understand. And we’ve got you covered for missing a night of NBA action, here’s what you need to know from around the Association.

1) No Curry, not exactly no problem but Golden State grinds out a gritty win over Hawks. Without Stephen Curry and his disruptive gravity that warps defenses, the Golden State Warriors are not the same team. The passing isn’t as crisp, the spacing just isn’t quite there, and it feels like a grind to watch them score half the time. But the Warriors can grind. That’s what they did Tuesday night, needing overtime to keep their perfect home record and pick up a 109-105 win.  But they got there. Golden State did it with hustle — they got the offensive rebound on 34 percent of their missed shots on the night. Andrew Bogut was at the heart of it all in this kind of game with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Then, when the Warriors needed a clutch three late, there was Draymond Green, Mr. Grit on this team.

The Warriors remain just ahead of the Bulls’ record win pace (and next up is a rematch with Oklahoma City Thursday).

2) Carmelo Anthony had a rough night. First, he got blocked by the rim.

Then late in the game, ‘Melo was being heckled by a fan who was saying he sucked, and Anthony told him to ask James Dolan for his money back. Then he pointed to where the owner was sitting. That’s going to go over well in Madison Square Garden. Oh, and Portland easily handled New York by 19.

3) Lakers’ rookie D’Angelo Russell scores 39 in Lakers’ win. This is the most a Laker rookie has scored in a game since Elgin Baylor in 1959. Which is some pretty nice company. Russell was always going to take time to come around — his game isn’t based on explosive athleticism, he was never going to come into the league and just dominate. He was going to have to figure out how to use angles, create space, and bring more of his old-man game to the NBA. And he is figuring it out. Russell’s change of pace, his hesitation moves are impressive for a rookie. His passing is improving and he’s finding those angles. He’s looking strong running the offense and using pick-and-rolls to set everything up. And, as he showed Tuesday, his shot is coming along nicely.

4) Derrick Rose is back but Heat still smack struggling Bulls around; Chicago falls out of playoffs. The Bulls got Derrick Rose back and he was still attacking with speed and trying to get to the rim. Rose had 17 points on 11 shots. But the Bulls’ defense was terrible and Miami shredded it on the way to a 129-111 win. That loss drops Chicago to the nine seed — if the playoffs started today Chicago would be golfing. Except for Pau Gasol, he’d be at the opera.

Miami set a record shooting 67.5 percent on the night. Hassan Whiteside owned the fourth quarter and had 26 on the night, while the newest Heat member Joe Johnson added 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. It all started with penetration — Miami formed a conga line into the paint where they either got to the rim, pulled up for a wide-open midrange jumper, or kicked out to a wide-open three-point shooter. Miami did whatever it wanted on offense. Chicago put up points but they had no answer on defense for the small-ball Heat (without Chris Bosh).

If Chicago doesn’t find it’s defense soon, it will miss the playoffs in the first year of the Fred Hoiberg era. And that would and should raise a lot of questions about the team’s front office competence.

5) Dwyane Wade can still get up and dunk. Barely. This is not exactly the most impressive of throwdowns, but it still counts for two.